It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to hold water horses long enough to make it to the finish. Some live. Others die. At nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. If he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep. Puck Connolly is different. The first female competitor, she never meant to enter the Races, but fate never gave her a chance. She is in no way prepared for what's to come.There was something so effortless in this story filled with determination, struggle, death, and complications. This book is hard, wind-swept and tasting of salt and blood, but reading it was a joy.I'm hard-pressed to place this book in a particular genre, or in multiple genres. It has a historical feel, the island and the struggle of its inhabitants reminiscent of Ireland, Scotland, or Wales before the 1800's, but there are cars and America and California. Perhaps some sort of mythological story, the water horses pulled from the water to race, their spirits strong and their teeth at the ready to tear into human flesh. It's a unique blend of harsh and mystical with survival and hope and fate.Sean is the classic tortured hero, haunted by the death of his father, one foot on the island and the other in the sea with the water horses he loves. He respects the dangerous creatures, more than most, and will do whatever it takes to win the Races and live the life he loves. But he's alone with only a water horse for company, not proper company. It's like he lives half a life.Puck, on the other hand, was adorable in her bitterness and spunk. She never wanted to be in the Races, never meant to enter, shocks the entire island by putting in her name and that of her normal non-human-eating horse, and ends up in a place she never expected.Their coming together, because how could they not, the returning winner and the first-time girl, was almost a brush past, no big thing, but Sean can't help but watch Puck and wonder why she entered, wonder why she'd risk her life.This book was unexpected in my head. I didn't expect such a book, such a race, such a craving for survival and love of danger and the unique. Stiefvater has woven a wonderful story between the covers, and had given me a new wariness for horses.